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African Societies. African Cultural Characteristics. Common features Concept of kin g Society arrange in age groups and kinship divisions Sub-Saharan Africans descended from people who lived in southern Sahara during “wet period” Migrated south where cultural traditions developed Kingship

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African cultural characteristics
African Cultural Characteristics

  • Common features

    • Concept of king

    • Society arrange in age groups and kinship divisions

  • Sub-Saharan Africans descended from people who lived in southern Sahara during “wet period”

  • Migrated south where cultural traditions developed

  • Kingship

    • Kings ritually isolated

Sub saharan africa a challenging geography
Sub-Saharan Africa: A Challenging Geography

  • Large area with many different environmental zones and many geographical obstacles to movement

    • Sahara Desert—North Africa

      • World's largest desert

    • Maghreb—northwest Africa

      • Coastlands and Atlas Mountains of Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia

    • Sahel—belt of grasslands south of Sahara

    • Sudan—just below the Sahel

    • Guinea—rainforests

      • Along Atlantic coast from Guinea to Nigeria

    • Congo—rainforest region of Congo River Basin

    • Great Lakes—series of five lakes

Early east africa
Early East Africa

  • Egyptians and Sabaeans

    • Egypt referred to the area as Punt

      • Documentary evidence of trade between Egypt and Punt

      • Products were spices, gold, ivory, animals, slaves

    • Semitics in Southern Yemen & East Africa

      • Created dams, terraced agriculture

      • Cities connected by trade to SW Asia

      • Specialize in gold, frankincense, myrrh

Early east africa1
Early East Africa

  • Axum-Ethiopia

    • Civilization arose in Axum: records, coinage, monuments

    • Great power mentioned in Greek, Roman, Persian records

    • 3rd Century Christianity

    • In decline after rise of Islam in Red Sea & Arabian Sea

Movement in africa
Movement in Africa

  • Romans and Greek

    • Greek, Roman, and Persian coins of 3rd century CE found in area

  • Three movements converge

    • Polynesians of Indian Ocean

    • Arabic merchants along East African Coast

    • Bantu Migration down East African Coast

Movement in africa1
Movement in Africa

  • Polynesian immigrants settle parts

    • Introduce bananas

  • Muslim Arab merchants

    • Arab Muslims trade for slaves, gold, ivory

    • Link East Africa to wider Indian Ocean

    • Arab merchants take Bantu wives

    • Mixed families link interior Bantu, coastal Arabs

African societies

Advent of Iron

and Bantu Migrations

  • Sub-Saharan agriculture

    • Origins north of equator

    • Spread southward

  • Iron-working also began north of equator and spread southward

    • Reached southern Africa by 800 c.e.

African societies

Advent of Iron

and Bantu Migrations

  • Bantu migrations

    • Linguistic evidence

    • Spread of iron and other technology in sub-Saharan Africa

    • Original homeland of Bantu was area on the border of modern Nigeria and Cameroon

    • Spread out toward east and south through series of migrations in first millennium CE

    • Introduce cattle, iron, slash-burn agriculture

    • By 8th century, Bantu-speaking people reached East Africa

African societies

El Zanj: The Swahili

  • 30-40 separate city-states along East African coast

    • "Swahili" used by early Arabs, means "coast“

    • By 1st century BCE Arab and Indian traders

      • Brought bananas, cloves, cinnamon and pepper

      • Left with gold, ivory and slaves

    • Spoke African language enriched with Arabic and Persian vocabulary

    • 8th Century CE

      • Settlement Arabs from Persian Gulf

      • Small settlements of Indians

Swahili coastal trade
Swahili Coastal Trade

  • Trade Winds

    • Monsoon winds dictate all movement

    • November to February: Indians can arrive

    • April to September: Swahili go to India

Swahili history
Swahili History

  • Swahili city-states

    • Muslim and cosmopolitan

    • Bantu, Islamic, and Indian influences

    • Politically independent of one another

    • Never a Swahili empire or hegemony

  • Trade and economics

    • Cities like competitive companies, corporations vying for African trade

    • Chief exports: ivory, sandalwood, ebony, and gold; later slaves

    • Trade linked to both Arabia and India; even Chinese goods, influence reached area

Swahili history1
Swahili History

  • Social construct

    • Arabs, Persians were significant players

    • Cities were run by nobility that was African in origin

    • Below nobility: commoners, resident foreigners

    • Large group of artisans, weavers, craftsmen

    • Slavery was actively practiced

  • 16th century

    • Advent of Portuguese trade disrupted trade routes, made commercial centers obsolete

    • Portuguese allowed natives no share in African trade

    • Began conquering Islamic city-states along eastern coast

  • Late 17th century

    • Oman conquered Portuguese cities along coast

    • Area controlled by Omani sultanate for another 200 years

    • Cotton, cloves, plantation agriculture thrived and used slaves for labor

Swahili cities
Swahili Cities

  • Swahili garden cities

    • Built around palaces, mosques

    • Walled cities

    • Many markets, harbors

    • Wealthy

      • Built homes within walls

      • Endowed mosques, schools

    • Muslims transplanted many different plants, crops to area

African societies

Great Zimbabwe

  • Swahili cities

    • Wealth led to centralization of Zimbabwean government around 1300 CE

    • Gold and copper

      • Easily mined and obtained

    • Capital was Great Zimbabwe

      • Huge fortification surrounded by stone walls

      • Economy rested on agriculture, cattle herding, and trade

      • Declined due to an ecological crisis brought on by deforestation and overgrazing

Great zimbabwe

  • 200 Square Miles

  • Built consistently from 11th century to 15th century

  • Estimates are that Great Zimbabwe had as many as 18,000 inhabitants at its peak